4 Ways to Spread Positivity in Your School
We recently hosted #PositiveChatMHE on Twitter, and were blown away by the creativity, energy, and dedication educators bring to their work in order to create positivity in their classrooms, schools, and districts. For many of these educators, fostering a positive learning environment requires a holistic approach, and spans a variety of student experience factors, including social and emotional supports, community involvement, and even innovative instruction. We encourage you to browse the chat in the link above to gather all of the ideas they shared, but in the meantime, we’ve listed a few of our favorite strategies for spreading positivity below:
Promote Kindness & Empathy
Start simple: pay careful attention to the way kindness and empathy are valued, understood, and promoted in your learning community. Look for initiatives, programs, and activities that teach kindness and empathy beyond surface-level understandings and allow for ample opportunities for students to practice kindness among their peers, and explore how empathy might affect their interactions, perspectives, and daily life. We recommend The Great Kindness Challenge for schools looking to practice kindness — it’s free, and suitable for grades PreK-12. To learn more about the program and for additional strategies for promoting both kindness and empathy, see:
Tailor SEL to Student Needs
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a critical component of any supportive, positive, and safe learning environment. When it comes to SEL instruction, every teacher and every school is likely in a different place in levels or type of integration. There’s lots of research on SEL available, and best practices that can guide educators in providing SEL instruction that’s certain to make a difference in student lives. In order to construct a learning environment that’s truly rooted in positivity, it’s important to ensure that SEL instruction is inclusive of all student needs, which vary depending on their personal experiences. This guide on providing English Learners with SEL is a good place to start in exploring the various approaches to SEL that can help you spread positivity to all students.
Be Sensitive to Student Experiences
For many educators, it’s important to be aware of any challenges, hardships, or trauma that students may have gone through in order to take a thorough approach to support and positivity. Being sensitive to student experiences requires knowledge of best practices around how to help students cope with trauma, and a willingness to give students the time, space, and tools they need to flourish in the classroom despite their experiences. In the blogs below, educator Diane-Wolk Rogers describes a few of the strategies she employs to help her students cope with trauma:
By Diane Wolk-Rogers, Educator, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolmedium.com
By Diane Wolk-Rogers, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolmedium.com
Take Care of Yourself
A positive, supportive classroom environment begins with its leader — which means that it’s absolutely critical that you take care of yourself. In this profession, that can be challenging, and it’s okay if your self-care approach is a work-in-progress. Some educators suggest practicing mindfulness for teachers, even at a district-wide level. Your approach might include ongoing support from peers or simply designated time for a hobby, family, and rest. No matter your routine, it’s all about working to model positive, supportive interactions with others.
For more on kindness, empathy, positivity, see: